How To: Stew

Stewing is a method of slow-cooking relatively small pieces of meat and poultry with moist heat until rendered tender. Such long-simmered goodness comes with aromas that tug at your senses and deep, rich flavors that warm the depths of your soul. And it’s a good way to get maximum value out of economical cuts.

The principles of the stewing technique hold true to any kind of cubed beef, pork, veal, lamb, and poultry being prepared. A whole chicken cut into 4 or 8 pieces can also be stewed.

Cooking with moist heat makes stewing related to other cooked-in-liquid methods, including braising and poaching. Long hours of slow cooking break down the muscle fibers and connective tissue to make it fork tender.

The liquid in which you stew can be made up of stock chosen to complement the main ingredient, wine, water, or a combination of two or more.

Generally, stews freeze very well, so there’s really no such thing as cooking too much stew. Also, it’s a good idea to make your stew a day or two before you plan to serve it, as the flavors meld and mingle in the refrigerator.

So grab some crusty bread and make a green salad, and you’re on your way to comfort-food heaven.

To watch a video of this tutorial, click here.

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The Steps

  • Step 1 Assemble all your ingredients before beginning to cook. Remove stew beef from refrigerator. Pat dry and let rest between paper towels. Allow it to come up to room temperature—about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Step 2 Heat oil over medium-high to high heat and sauté mirepoix (chopped onions, celery, and carrot) in a Dutch oven until golden brown.
  • Step 3 Remove the vegetables from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Step 4 Dust the stew beef cubes with flour, salt, and pepper. Make sure there’s about 2 tablespoons of oil in the braising pan or Dutch oven. When the oil is hot, brown the cubes 2 to 3 minutes in a single layer on all sides until they are golden brown. You may need to brown the beef in batches.
  • Step 5 Add the browned vegetables to the pan.
  • Step 6 Add your stewing liquid and seasonings to the pan (about 1 1/2 cups per pound of beef cubes). Reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer covered for about 1 1/2 hours and then uncovered for a 1/2 hour more. (Optional: If the pan juices are too thin, thicken with a mixture of flour dissolved in hot pan juices in a ratio of 2:1.)
  • Step 7 Now, just ladle the meat and vegetables into a bowl or soup plate for serving with some crusty bread.